Renovate not demolish buildings to cut climate emissions

 In Energy Saving, Home Improvements

A report by MPs that the UK must reduce the number of buildings being knocked down because demolition adds to climate change has been welcomed by a Midlands green energy expert Ron Fox.

He was commenting on the Commons Environmental Audit Committee which said that emissions created by the construction industry must be reduced if Britain is to meet its climate change targets.

Ron, of Noreus Ltd, said: “The problems is that the buildings sector, which is responsible for 25 per cent of the country’s harmful greenhouse gases, are creating twice the amount of carbon dioxide by demolishing and then rebuilding.

“It means using two lots of construction materials such as steel, cement, bricks, glass, aluminium and plastics whose manufacture creates lots of CO2.

The Committee chairman, Philip Dunne MP, said: “From homes to offices, retail units to hospitality venues, our buildings have a significant amount of locked-in carbon, which is wasted each time they get knocked down to be rebuilt, a process which produces yet more emissions.”

The MPs said the government’s recent decision to relax planning rules may also be leading to an unintended increase in demolition.

They pointed out that previously developers had been encouraged to knock down old, poorly-insulated homes and offices and replace them with buildings needing less heating.

But the MPs said ministers must now address this problem as a matter of urgency. They want developers to be obliged to calculate emissions over the entire lifetime of buildings and for the government to set targets for that sector.

Other solutions suggested include adding extra storeys to existing buildings or recycling as much of the old building as possible, or keeping the facade and especially the foundations, which need vast amounts of carbon-intensive cement.

But for those looking at renovation, Ron advised first getting the property checked by a specialist. “It may not be worth the expense and the effort if there are numerus repair problems. But then people may consider a partial rather than a complete demolition.” 

He also accepts there are certain scenarios when there is no choice but to demolish, such as when the building has a weak foundation, or it is made with hazardous materials or it so old and abandoned that there is no reason to keep it. 

The government said it welcomed the report and was carefully considering its findings. But they said that over the long term, the modern lower-carbon building would more than offset any emissions from the redevelopment.

Ron, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park in North Staffordshire, suggested another solution. “In the past the government said that the EU would not allow zero VAT on renovation – but there is nothing to stop them cutting the VAT now we are out of the EU.”  

However, he concluded: “We have got to stop pulling buildings down needlessly and make carbon savings now.” 

If you have an old building and want ideas to develop it in a green and environmental way call Ron on 0845 474 6641. 

Caption: Operation to save carbon emissions – The old Worcester Royal Infirmary, which was opened as a voluntary hospital on January 11, 1746, stood derelict for years after it was closed in 2002. Now it has been redeveloped as part of Worcester University.

Recent Posts
Contact Us

Got a quick question? send us an email and we'll get back to you, ASAP.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search

A MacBook Air next to an iPad and Iphone